At least 40 US Navy ships have had coronavirus cases on board, with 26 still affected, according to new reports.
The number of service members to test positive stands at 3,578 as of Wednesday with two deaths.
A Navy official told CNN the 26 ships with current cases are in being held in ports or yards but did not name the vessels in question. There are said to be no reported cases on 90 ships at sea; there are 297 active duty warships.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the U.S. Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, a week after 11 vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy came dangerously close to American ships in the Gulf.
An Iranian armed forces spokesman said after Trump’s comments that the United States should focus on saving its military from the coronavirus, .
The startling figures of coronavirus in the Navy come just weeks after the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was fired for pressing the Navy to take greater action to safeguard his crew from the virus.
The captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was fired for pressing the Navy to take greater action to safeguard his crew from the virus. The Navy’s top admiral will soon decide the fate of the ship captain who was fired after pleading for his superiors to move faster to safeguard his coronavirus-infected crew on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, pictured
Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Navy’s civilian leader, Thomas Modly, fired the ship’s captain on April 2
‘We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors,’ fired Capt. Brett E. Crozier wrote in the leaked letter.
‘The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.’
Just days later a sailor who tested positive for coronavirus while aboard the Roosevelt died in Guam on April 13.
Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who died from the coronavirus on April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam
In a statement, the Navy said Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, died at the US Naval Hospital in Guam of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
‘As of today, 94% of USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members were tested for Covid-19, with 710 total positive and 3,872 negative results,’ a release from the U.S. Navy on Tuesday said.
Of the 710 positive cases, nine sailors are being treated at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam, 42 have recovered and one sailor has died as a result of the disease. The remaining 3,872 crew members tested received negative results.
Thacker was the first active-duty military member to die of COVID-19.
He tested positive the same day that a letter written by the ship’s captain begging the Navy high command to evacuate the virus-stricken vessel leaked to the press.
The Roosevelt had been in a coronavirus crisis that prompted the Navy’s civilian leader, Thomas Modly, to fire the ship’s captain on April 2.
Five days later – after having flown to the ship and delivering a speech in which he insulted the skipper, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, and criticizing the crew for supporting Crozier – Modly resigned.
Modly said he felt compelled to remove Crozier from command because he had distributed too widely via email a letter in which he called for more urgent Navy action to prevent a deeper coronavirus crisis aboard his ship.
Crozier’s words angered Modly but were seen by others as necessary.
Crozier received cheers and chants of ‘Captain Crozier’ from the crew as he left the ship. He later tested positive for COVID-19.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has now said it is possible that the fired captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt currently stationed in Guam could be reinstated to his post.
President Donald Trump, pictured with First Lady Melania, said on Wednesday he had instructed the U.S. Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea
A sailor who tested positive for coronavirus while aboard the Roosevelt died on April 13
Senior Pentagon officials said that Trump’s Wednesday comments on Iran were meant as a warning to Tehran, but suggested that the U.S. military would continue to abide by their existing right to self-defense instead of any changes to their rules.
‘The president issued an important warning to the Iranians, what he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense,’ Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist told reporters at the Pentagon.
Earlier this month, the U.S. military said 11 vessels from the IRGCN came close to U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves ‘dangerous and provocative.’
At one point, the Iranian vessels came within 10 yards of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui.
While such interactions at sea had occurred occasionally a few years ago, they had stopped recently.
Tensions between Iran and the United States increased earlier this year after the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in a drone strike in Iraq.
Iran retaliated on January 8 with a rocket attack on Iraq’s Ain al-Asad base where U.S. forces were stationed. No U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury, but more than 100 were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Wednesday it had successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit.